It is common knowledge that Chris Adrian is both a pediatrician and a divinity student, and he somehow manages to pump out some of the most inventive and interesting writing being published today. The short stories in this collection have all been published elsewhere, but together like this one can see a continuity that may have been missed, before.
The stories are:
The Sum of Our Parts
The Vision of Peter Damien
A Better Angel
A Hero of Chickamauga
A Child's Book of Sickness and Death
The first thing one will notice is that a great deal of these stories deal with the aftereffects of a loved one's death--usually a brother. The characters here react absurdly, sometimes, and silently others, but their reactions always show the absurdity of life after the death of someone you love. In a situation like the death of a brother, is not insanity the most sane of reactions?
Familiar characters to Adrian's universe are present in this collection--Pickie Beecher in "The Changeling" (previously called "Promise Breaker," as published in Esquire), a boy of the Claflin family in "The Vision of Peter Damien," or the quick mention of a Fie in "High Speeds." One could choose to believe that these stories are all happening in a separate universe, but there is comfort, I think, in allowing Adrian his creation.
Fans of The Children's Hospital and especially Gob's Grief will not be disappointed, nor will anyone picking up Adrian for the first time. Be prepared, though, to become just as obsessed with his writing as his characters are with their own unhealthiness.